"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Saturday, aka Day 2, of HeroesCon was much busier for creators, so I didn’t always get the opportunity to chat with them that I did on the first day of the Charlotte, North Carolina, convention. In those instances, in place of project updates I provide links to the creators and/or their related works.
Passings | Eisner Hall of Fame nominee Fred Kida has died at the age of 93. Kida was an active comics artist for almost 50 years; he got his start drawing Airboy for Hillman Comics in about 1940 and went on to work for Lev Gleason and then Marvel. He assisted Will Eisner occasionally on The Spirit and also drew a number of newspaper strips, including Flash Gordon and The Amazing Spider-Man. “He was a good, dependable artist who drew beautiful women, handsome heroes and some of the ugliest villains in comics,” said Mark Evanier. [News from ME]
Publishing | ICv2 has a two-part interview with Dynamite Entertainment CEO Nick Barrucci, who has plenty to say about variant covers, the launch of Twilight Zone and Legenderry, their Gold Key properties, and what’s coming in the year ahead. [ICv2]
Last year IDW Publishing released an amazing series of one-off crossovers featuring Mars Attacks and different titles in its line. It covered a lot of ground and showed some unusual and fun pairings, but one we never got to see was Evan Dorkin’s Popeye Vs. Mars Attacks.
He relates in a blog post a situation where, in the span of a few hours, he was offered to write the book, pitched to IDW despite initial reluctance, got his pitch accepted, and then opted out. Although the 2013 one-shot was ultimately written by Martin Powell and illustrated by Terry Beatty, it’s interesting to read Dorkin’s ill-fated pitch and his summary of events behind the scenes.
Legal | It looks as if Tunisian cartoonist Jabeur Mejri will not be released from prison any time soon, despite being pardoned by President Moncef Marzouki for charges stemming from his cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. It turns out that the mysterious other criminal case that’s been holding things up is a charge of embezzlement that dates back a few years to when Mejri was working for the Tunisian railways. Neither Mejri’s lawyer nor his family had been aware of the charge, but the judge in the case issued a warrant for Mejri’s continued detention on Jan. 9. His lawyer will submit a bail request, which he hopes will be granted next week. [Independent Online]
Creators | Chris Ware talks about his Building Stories in an interview that was recorded before a live audience in Portland, Oregon. [Oregon Public Broadcasting]
Comics | Parents at a Woodland Hills, California, elementary school are outraged that a comic handed out to their children turned out to include graphic images of cows being mistreated in factory farms. A calf had been brought to the school for a unit on dairy farming, and when children were given a copy of what looked like a kid-friendly comic titled A Cow’s Life, they didn’t anticipate what they found inside: Images of cows being mutilated, electrocuted and dehorned. PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman apologized, saying the comics were intended for adults (it’s not clear how or why they were distributed to the children, though the copy provided to the local media is labeled on its covers as “PETAkids Comics”), and offered to provide non-dairy ice cream sandwiches to students and staff.
UPDATE: PETA has clarified to ROBOT 6 that the comic itself is a kid-friendly publication. However, it contained an inserted pamphlet intended for parents which featured graphic photographs of “pictures of baby cows being electrocuted, factory farms with machetes.” PETA maintains that the pamphlet was not intended to be included inside the comic, and “intended for the in-depth leaflets to go to the students’ parents so that they could be fully informed about how the dairy industry hurts animals (and how dairy products can make kids and adults sick).” [CBS News]
Digital comics | It took three years for comiXology to reach 100 million downloads, but just one year for it to reach 200 million. Matthew Flamm profiles the company and its CEO, David Steinberger, who first saw a business opportunity in comics when he was trying to sell his collection and couldn’t find software to catalog it. The next big moment for comiXology is likely to come in October, when the fourth season of The Walking Dead premieres on television the same week the 10th-anniversary issue of the comic is released. Image Comics projects it will sell 300,000 print copies and another 45,000, or about 15 percent, as digital. [Crains New York]
Creators | Writer Mark Waid admits he didn’t think he’d be a good fit for Daredevil, because he doesn’t write in the darker style favored by his predecessors. “I’m better at swashbuckling adventure,” he says. “When I was asked to take that tack, I was in.” [Comic Riffs]
Cartoonist Evan Dorkin of Milk & Cheese and Beasts of Burden fame has been musing on Twitter about doing more work in his on-again, off-again Welcome to Eltingville comic strip. Last seen in a 2012 issue of Dark Horse Presents, the series profiles four hardcore comics fans in their social lives in and around their comic store — based on the real Jim Hanley’s Universe chain. Dorkin created Welcome to Eltingville for in the early 1990s anthology series he produced titled Instant Piano, and the series was even adapted as a very short-lived (one episode) series for Cartoon Network. The series was produced shortly after Dorkin began work there on Space Ghost Coast to Coast and later Superman.
“Of late my thoughts turn to Eltingville,” Dorkin began Sept. 6 on Twitter. “For Eltingville to live…Eltingville must die. For Eltingville to die… Eltingville must live. Everyone roll D20 to make a saving throw against Eltingville.”
As you might expect, the brief mentions of Dorkin doing new Welcome to Eltingville caused his fans to begin talking it up. Late Tuesday, Dorkin had a firm answer — or answers: “For those asking about Eltingville, the answer is ‘Yes.’ Also, ‘No.; As well as, ‘No, no, no Kickstarter, no.’ Thank you. Stay Tuned.”
Now that Cartoon Network has released a clip from a series of five Metal Men animated shorts debuting Saturday as part of its DC Nation programming block, Evan Dorkin reveals that he and Sarah Dyer collaborated on the project, with the cartoonist also providing character designs. “Although they were simplified quite a bit from what I submitted,” Dorkin notes. You can see the clip, along with some of Dorkin’s designs, below (with more on his blog).
“We had no idea they were going to announce this so we’re playing catch-up,” he writes. “Anyway, I hope DC Nation viewers enjoy them, especially the kids. Nothing against longtime fans and responsometer wonks — there’s two or three Ross Andru/Mike Esposito-designed villains in the mix — but the kids were who we were thinking of while working on the stuff.”
DC Nation airs Saturdays at 10 a.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network.
Creators | Stan Lee, characterized by CNN as “the Godfather of comic book heroes,” is modest about his own achievements in a new interview: “If my publisher hadn’t said ‘let’s do superhero stories’ I’d probably still be doing A Kid Called Outlaw, The Two Gun Kid or Millie the Model or whatever I was doing at the time.” He reflects on the increased female audience for comics and discusses some new projects, including a new superhero, The Annihilator, created specifically for a Chinese audience. [CNN]
Comics| Chris Huntington reflects on the importance of Miles Morales for children of color, like his son: “… To see Spider-Man pulling his mask over a tiny brown chin – to see a boy with short curly hair sticking to the ceiling of his bedroom— well, something happened. Dagim has been Spider-Man for two Halloweens in a row. He takes a bath with his Spider-Man and a toy killer whale. He has Spider-Man toothpaste and a Spider-Man toothbrush. If Spider-Man offered medical coverage, I think he would want that, too. My son somehow understands that there is a Peter Parker Spider-Man, who is vaguely grown-up and my age, and a younger Spider-Man, closer to his age. That’s just how Dagim likes it. He even understands that Peter Parker — like Superman, like Batman – wasn’t raised by his birth parents. The best superheroes were all adopted like him.” [The New York Times]
It’s become an annual tradition here during our birthday bash: No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of folks we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we’ve done in past years, we asked a cross-section of comics folks what they liked in 2012 and what they’re excited about for 2013. We received so many this year that we’ve broken it down into two posts; watch for another one Tuesday.
But for now, check out all the great stuff people shared with us, including hints at new projects and even some outright announcements. Our thanks to everyone this year who responded. Also, thanks to Tim O’Shea, Michael May and Chris Arrant, who helped collect responses.
JIMMIE ROBINSON (Bomb Queen, Five Weapons)
What was your favorite comic of 2012?
Image’s Saga, Fatale, Hawkeye‘s reinvention is fresh and exciting, Peter Panzerfaust, Enormous by Tim Daniel. It’s hard to pin down just one because there is SO much good work coming out nowadays — from many publishers across the board.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d start out with Legend of Luther Strode #1 (Image, $3.50). I was behind the times on the first series, but now I will raise my fist to the air and decree “NO MORE!” (to the stunned silence of my local comic shop owner). Justin Jordan really brought a different take on this story, but for me the sizzle on this is Tradd Moore’s art. It reminds me of Sam Keith’s middle-period during his Marvel Comics Presents Wolverine run, and that’s nothing but a good thing. After that I’d get Stumptown #4 (Oni Press, $3.99). Some might compare Dex’s journey to that of Jessica Jones in Marvel’s Alias, but it’s anything but. Greg Rucka really knows how to make a story feel more than just mere fiction. My third pick this week would be Invincible #98 (Image, $2.99), seeing Mark Grayson get his powers back – just in time to be stomped into the ground, from the looks of it. Reading this series since the first issue, I’m noticing the colorist change more and more here; John Rauch definitely is a step removed from FCO Plascencia, and I’m still getting used to it. Kirkman and Ottley are delivering here so well that Domino’s should be jealous. (ba-dum CHING!) Last up in my Wednesday haul would be Avengers #1 (Marvel, $3.99). I’ve noticed in doing Food or Comics for as long as I have how I’ll routinely follow writers but when they manage to get an artist I particularly like I’ll fall over myself trying to get to it. Case in point, this book, with Jonathan Hickman joining forces with Jerome Opeña to kick off a new era for Marvel’s flagship book. I’m all for “Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers,” but I’m even more excited to see Opeña’s take on this.
The dogs and cat of Burden Hill return to duty next year in a new miniseries by creators Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson. Unofficially announced during a panel at last week’s New York Comic Con, Dorkin gave a few details on it on his blog.
“Although we didn’t make a formal announcement, during the Dark Horse Comics horror panel we mentioned that Jill Thompson and I are working on a second Beasts of Burden mini-series,” Dorkin said on his blog. “It’ll be four issues, two of which I’ve written (one of which I co-wrote with Sarah). When we’re finally done with it all the second series will cap a second hardcover collection, along with the Hellboy crossover and the Neighborhood Watch stories from Dark Horse Presents. As far as a schedule for the new series, I guess ‘sometime in 2013′ is about all I can cough up. Anyway, at least it’s underway, finally, and I’m glad we can start talking about it. Although I guess that’s all there is to say right now.”
The Eisner-winning comic from Dark Horse stars a group of dogs and cats that investigates supernatural events in their town. Beasts of Burden began as a recurring feature in the Dark Horse Book of… anthologies before graduating into its own miniseries. All of those stories can be found in Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites collection. More recently they appeared in Dark Horse Presents, with those stories being collected into the one-shot Neighborhood Watch.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics.
Wait a minute … “monthly”?
It’s true that we haven’t taken a What Looks Good tour in a few months, but the feature is back with an all-new approach that we hope will be more varied and useful than the old format. Instead of Michael and Graeme just commenting on everything that catches our attention in the catalog, we’ve invited Chrises Mautner and Arrant to join us in each picking the five new comics we’re most looking forward to. What we’ll end up with is a Top 20 (or so; there may be some overlap) of the best new comics coming out each month.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
1) Love and Rockets New Stories #5 by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics) — How do you possibly top the triumphant storytelling feat that was “The Love Bunglers”? I dunno, but Jaime Hernandez is certainly going to give it the old college try, this time shifting the focus onto the vivacious “Frogmouth” character. Gilbert, meanwhile, brings back some of his classic Palomar characters, so yeah, this is pretty much a “must own” for me.
2) Skippy Vol. 1: Complete Dailies 1925-1927 by Percy Crosby (IDW) — Percy Crosby’s Skippy might well be the great forgotten comic strip of the 20th century. Extremely popular in its day, and a huge influence on such luminaries as Charles Schulz, the strip has largely been forgotten and the name conjures up little more than images of peanut butter. IDW’s effort to reacquaint folks with this strip might change that — the few snippets I’ve read suggest this is real lost gem.
3) The Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized Books) — Tom Kaczynski’s small-press publishing company drops its first major, “big book” release with this memoir from the always-excellent Gabrielle Bell. Collecting work from her series Lucky (and, I think, some of her recent minis), the book chronicles a turbulent five year period as she travels around the world. Should be great.
4) Godzilla: The Half Century War by James Stokoe (IDW) — I usually stay as far away from licensed books as possible, but there is one simple reason I’m including this comic in my top five: James Stokoe. Stokoe’s Orc Stain has quickly become one of my favorite serialized comics, and his obsession with detailing every inch of the page combined with his ability to incorporate significant manga storytelling tropes in his work convince me he can do a solid job chronicling the adventures of the big green lizard that spits radioactive fire.
5) Barbara by Osamu Tezuka (Digital Manga) — Speaking of manga, here’s one of the more noteworthy Kickstarter projects of recent years: Digital Manga’s attempt to bring the master’s saga of a famous author and the homeless, beautiful woman he takes in and assumes to be his literal muse. This is well regarded in many Tezuka fan circles as one of the cartoonist’s better adult stories, and I’m glad to see Digital willing to take a chance on bringing more Tezuka to the West. I’ll definitely be buying this. I should also note that Vertical will also be offering some Tezuka this month, namely a new edition of Adolph (originally published by Viz in the ’90s), here titled Message to Adolph but well worth checking out regardless of the title.
If for some reason you’ve not already read Beasts of Burden, the Eisner-winning Dark Horse series by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson about a group of dogs and cats that investigates supernatural events, maybe this will pique your interest: Paris publisher Delcourt has released a nice trailer for the French edition of Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites, in which the Wise Dog Society must contend with demonic cannibal frogs, tortured spirits, a secret rat society and a resurrection in the Burden Hill cemetery.
“I’m usually not a big fan of the animated comic book trailer thing, but I have to admit I was kind of knocked out to see this, and not just because it’s something I worked on,” Dorkin writes. “It looks pretty swell, someone really spent time on this and Jill’s art looks great, of course. It’s like an animatic for an animated film, with music and titles, it’s very professional and it honestly freaked me out when I first saw it because I figured it was going to be a french person thumbing through a printed copy of the book. Which it isn’t.”
Legal | The New York Times ventures deep into the legal battle between Archie Comics Co-CEOs Nancy Silberkleit and Jonathan Goldwater, noting the two sides have gone into court-approved mediation. “Competing lawsuits filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan and State Supreme Court in Westchester County lay out a litany of bitter allegations. He punctured her car tires, destroyed her Web site and claimed that she sexually harassed employees. She ordered him to fire several longtime employees because they were too old, too fat or too buxom, and let her dog, Willow, roam the offices and defecate in the art department.” [The New York Times]
Conventions | Although no figures have been released for last weekend’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, organizer Lance Fensterman said attendance was “way up,” noting that, “the size of the show floor doubled and the aisles were much more full than last year. That tells you how much attendance jumped to keep pace with the floor growth.” [Publishers Weekly]